Mandating that New York City employees either get COVID-19 vaccinations or undergo weekly testing should give vaccine-hesitant people a strong incentive to get inoculated, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
De Blasio announced the new rule, which goes into effect on September 13, during a press conference on Monday, affecting 400,000 workers.
In an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, the Democratic mayor said he hopes the rule encourages workers to get their shot to avoid the hassle of weekly tests.
‘I want to emphasize that that either/or really creates a positive pressure for vaccination because it will be the responsibility of the employee to get tested on a regular basis, and that comes with its own challenges,’ he said.
The new vaccine-or-test rules come as the highly contagious Indian ‘Delta’ variant of the coronavirus is pushing caseloads up in New York from an average of 245 earlier this month to 922 as of Sunday.
Health officials say the variant makes up about seven in 10 new cases in New York City.
Meanwhile, the number of vaccine doses being administered daily in the city has dropped to less than 18,000, down from more than 100,000 in early April.
All New York City employees will be required to either get a COVID vaccine or take a COVID test every week starting on September 13
The ‘Indian ‘Delta’ variant is pushing caseloads up in New York from an average of 245 earlier this month to 922 as of Sunday
Deaths have continued to remain low, however, likely due to the high rates of vaccination
De Blasio also said he supports businesses issuing COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the private sector.
‘I’ve said to the private sector in New York City, any private sector entity, go ahead and do a full mandate, if that’s something you feel you can do and works for you do it now.
‘Everyone’s in a different situation but go as far as you can go right now because we have to stop the Delta variant.’
He also lashed out at state and local leaders that have banned stores and restaurants from allowing only vaccinated customers.
‘If people say they believe in American values of liberty, and then they tell someone, a mom-and-pop business, you know, we’re going to cancel you because you want to keep safe or you want to protect your community, I would put that right squarely in the un-American category.
‘If you say, hey, everyone has a right to run their business – and people are trying to deal with a global pandemic. This isn’t an everyday problem.’
De Blasio made the announcement during a press conference on Monday and includes those who work for the Department of Education and the New York Police Department.
Those who work for New York Health and Hospitals or the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene have until August 2 to get the vaccine and employees in congregate or residential settings have until August 16.
‘September is the pivot point of the recovery,’ he said. ‘September is when it will all happen.’
Those who remain unvaccinated will be required to wear masks at all times, he said, adding: ‘There unfortunately will have to be consequences.’
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday that all New York City employees will be required to get a COVID test starting on September 13 if they are not vaccinated against the virus
The mayor also announced that those who do not get a COVID vaccine will be required to wear a mask at all times, and will launch an ‘NYC COVID Safe’ app to allow people to display either their vaccination records or their negative COVID tests
‘We unfortunately have to be very tough if a city government employee does not wear masks indoors if they’re unvaccinated,’ de Blasio said, with health officials later announcing that those who do not wear masks may be put on leave.
He added that the city may impose more ‘mandates and measures whenever needed to fight the Delta variant.’
‘This is about our recovery, this is about what we need to do to bring back New York City, this is about keeping people safe, this is about making sure our families get through COVID OK, this is about bringing back jobs, you name it,’ he said.
To help with these efforts, de Blasio said the city will launch an ‘NYC COVID Safe’ application on August 2 that will allow people to display their vaccination records or their negative COVID tests.
The COVID tests will expire after seven days to meet the mayor’s requirement that city employees must be tested every week.
The move comes just one week after the mayor announced that employees at the city’s public hospitals and in Health Department community clinics would be required to get their vaccinations by next Monday, or begin submitting to weekly COVID tests.
And those in publicly-run residential or congregate care facilities, like nursing homes, would be required to present a proof of vaccination by August 16 or submit to weekly tests.
As of Tuesday, 70.7 percent of adults have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine and 65.4 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the Health Department.
That amounts to more than 9.8 million people vaccinated in the city, the mayor said.
But just last week, the New York Police Department announced that it had only vaccinated about 43 percent of its force, The Hill reports.
Nasal swab testing, like that seen here, will be required for all city employees who are not vaccinated beginning on September 13
‘Since vaccines became available we have encouraged our employees, especially those who have contact with the public, to get vaccinated,’ the NYPD said in a statement at the time.
When asked about this low vaccination rate in the police force, de Blasio said the NYPD and ‘every other agency [has] gotta do better. We gotta go farther.’
To help with these efforts, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that the state is allocating $15 million to community vaccination organizations .
‘These orgs have the expertise to move the needle in areas with high positivity and low vax rates,’ the governor tweeted, adding: ‘We’ve made incredible progress against COVID – but there’s more work to do.’
As of Sunday, the city’s COVID positivity rate was above onw percent, with a daily average of 591 confirmed cases and 233 probable cases, according to Health Department data.
There were at least 28 hospitalizations as of Sunday, and at least three confirmed deaths.
Testing, however, has increased past 2 percent, according to the New York Post, more than doubling the below 1 percent rate in early July.
Governor Andrew Cuomo also tweeted on Monday that the state is allocating $15 million to community organizations to help improve the vaccination rates
Speaking to WNYC on Friday, the mayor reiterated that more needed to be done as the Delta variant continues to spread.
‘We tried purely voluntary for over half a year,’ he told WNYC on Friday, according to the New York Post. ‘We tried every form of incentives. But now we’ve got to go further, we’ve reached the limits of a purely voluntary system.
‘It’s time for more mandates.’
‘We’ve tried everything else and we got results, but we need more’ people to get vaccinated.
‘If people want freedom, if people want jobs, if people want to be able to live again, we have to get more people vaccinated,’ the mayor said Friday.
He added that: ‘The Delta variant is like a freight train coming on, we’ve got to take it seriously.’
The United States recorded 15,711 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday with a seven-day rolling average of 52,116, which is a 291 percent increase from the 13,305 average recorded three weeks ago.
Deaths have continued to remain relatively flat with 56 recorded on Sunday and a seven-day rolling average of 281, 17 percent up from the average of 239 recorded three weeks prior.
The mayor also called out people who spread ‘misinformation’ about the vaccines on social media, discouraging people from getting the jab.
He said the city Health Department is planning to write a letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, calling on them to crack down on those who spread the false information.
‘There are people spreading disinformation purposely for their own profit, for their own fame for their own political gains,’ he said.
‘Let’s be clear, the folks who are out there lying about vaccinations lying about COVID are doing it for their own greedy reasons – not for your health and well-being but for their own aspirations.’
‘That’s what’s going on and it has to end,’ he said. ‘And those who are enabling the disinformation have to stop. It has cost many people their lives.
‘Those who spread disinformation are literally killing people,’ he said, noting that 65 percent of the ‘disinformation’ is coming from social media, linking back to just 12 accounts.
‘These people are still at large,’ he said and are ‘literally depriving people of their lives.’
He asked Zuckerberg and Dorsey to ‘kick them off your sites immediately,’ saying: ‘If you don’t stop the lies, then you are complicit in the rise of COVID.’
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday said the Biden administration would continue fighting COVID-19 ‘misinformation’ despite the president’s recent gaffes illustrating the pitfalls
The mayor said he agreed with President Joe Biden’s move to police what is posted on social media, a policy the White House announced last week.
The Biden administration is reviewing Section 230 – a 1990s era regulations that protects tech companies from being held liable for their content, in the way that newspaper and magazine publishers are.
Democratic senators this week introduced legislation that would require internet platforms such as Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to take down health and vaccine-related misinformation during public health emergencies or be held liable for its impacts.
It would set up the Department of Health and Human Services to issue guidelines on what is and what is not misinformation.
The announcement came after the administration admitted it had been flagging dangerous ‘misinformation’ to Facebook – such as claims that vaccines could cause infertility – for removal.
Republicans have since accused Biden of acting like a ‘Cuban dictator’ in the way it was pressuring private companies to censor speech.
‘What the Biden White House is doing—namely, ordering big tech companies to ban Americans that do not regurgitate government approved messaging—is what authoritarian regimes do,’ said Sen. Marsha Blackburn in a letter sent to the White House.
‘The American people deserve to know the extent of the White House’s coordination with big tech. President Biden should waive executive privilege and release the emails.’
Free speech advocates have also raised bipartisan concerns.
‘No matter which party is in power, the government cannot be trusted to label ‘truth’ or ‘fiction’ any more than Facebook or Twitter can,’ said the American Civil Liberties Union, reminding viewers of how at the start of the pandemic President Trump claimed that COVID-19 would just disappear.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment about its strategy.
FACT CHECK REVEALS BIDEN FALSELY CLAIMED VACCINE WOULD PREVENT COVID AND HIS ADMINISTRATION HOLDS SIX-MONTH JOBS RECORD
President Joe Biden offered an absolute guarantee Wednesday that people who get their COVID-19 vaccines are completely protected from infection, sickness and death from the coronavirus. The reality is not that cut and dried.
The vaccines are extremely effective but ‘breakthrough’ infections do occur and the delta variant driving cases among the unvaccinated in the U.S. is not fully understood.
Also Biden inflated the impact of his policies on U.S. jobs created in his first half-year in office, misleadingly stating his administration had done more than any other president. He neglects to mention he had population growth on his side in his comparison.
A look at his remarks in a CNN town hall:
BIDEN: ‘If you’re vaccinated, you’re not going to be hospitalized, you’re not going to be in the IC unit, and you’re not going to die.’
THE FACTS: His remark accurately captures the strong protection the COVID-19 vaccines provide as cases spike among people who have resisted the shots. But it overlooks the rare exceptions.
As of July 12, the government had tallied 5,492 vaccinated people who tested positive for coronavirus and were hospitalized or died. That’s out of more than 159 million fully vaccinated Americans. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said ‘99.5 per cent of all deaths from COVID-19 are in the unvaccinated.’
BIDEN: ‘You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations.’
THE FACTS: Again, he painted with too broad a brush as he described in stark terms the disparity between those who got their shots and those who haven’t. The disparity is real, but a small number of breakthrough infections happen and health officials say they are not a cause for alarm.
No vaccines are perfect, and the government is keeping a close eye on whether new coronavirus mutants start to outsmart the COVID-19 shots. But for now, federal health officials say even when breakthrough infections occur, they tend to be mild – the vaccines so far remain strongly protective against serious illness.
BIDEN, when asked after the town hall about vaccinated people who get infected: ‘It may be possible, I know of none where they’re hospitalized, in ICU and or have passed away so at a minimum I can say even if they did contract it, which I’m sorry they did, i’s such a tiny percentage and it’s not life threatening.’
THE FACTS: Once again, too far. That is evident from the CDC’s finding that 5,492 vaccinated people who tested positive for coronavirus were hospitalized or died as of July 12. That’s not ‘none.’ But he is correct that it is a small percentage of the more than 159 million fully vaccinated Americans.
BIDEN: ‘Now, by the way, remember when I first got elected, the issue was, well, I said I was going to do a million shots a week, and people said, ‘Biden can’t do that’ or “Biden team can’t do that.” And it was 2 million.’
FACTS: Biden’s initial goal was 1 million shots a day, not a week, in his first 100 days. His target was 100 million shots in the first 100 days. He then raised it to 200 million when the administration easily reached the target.
BIDEN: ‘We’ve created more jobs in the first six months of our administration than any time in American history. No president, no administration, has ever created as many jobs.’
THE FACTS: His claim is misleading.
While Biden’s administration in the first half year as president has seen more jobs created than any other president – just over 3 million in the five months tracked by jobs reports – that’s partly because the U.S. population is larger than in the past.
When calculated as a percentage of the workforce, job growth under President Jimmy Carter increased more quickly from February through June 1977 than the same five months this year: 2.2 per cent for Carter, compared with 2.1 per cent for Biden.
Since the late 1970s, the U.S. population has grown by more than 100 million people.
It’s true, though, that the economy is growing rapidly – it expanded at a 6.4 per cent annual rate in the first three months of the year – and is expected to grow this year at the fastest pace since 1984.
Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue package contributed to the vigorous growth, but much of the expansion also reflects a broader bounce-back from the unusually sharp pandemic recession, the deepest downturn since the 1930s. Even before Biden’s package, for example, the International Monetary Fund was projecting U.S. growth of over 5 per cent for this year.
Biden is also leaving out the fact that the U.S. economy remains 6.8 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic level, and the unemployment rate is an elevated 5.9 per cent, up from a five-decade low of 3.5 per cent before the pandemic.
BIDEN: Said the price of a car is ‘kind of’ back to the same as it was ‘before the pandemic’.
FACTS: New car prices are significantly higher than then they were before the onset of the pandemic. According to the Consumer Price Index, new and used cars were 20% higher in June 2020 than they were in January 2020. That was 19% higher again on prices from June 19%.
CHILD TAX CREDIT
BIDEN: ‘It’s called the child tax credit. If you have a child under the age of 7, you get 300 bucks a month — 350 bucks a month. If you have a child under — between 7 and 17, you get a total of 200 bucks a month.
FACTS: The age groups used to determine the brackets are 6 to 17 and not 7 to 17 as Biden suggested. Parents receive up to $250 a month for each child between 6 and 17 and $350 for those under 6.
BIDEN: He criticized clauses in contracts that restrict employees’ abilities to move jobs in a similar industry by saying, ‘you have over 600,000 people out there signing – 6 million people signing a – I better check the number — of — signing noncompete agreements. Not because they have … any secret, but because they were working for one fast-food restaurant, and they’re told they can’t get 10 cents more going across town, going to the other fast-food restaurant. Why? To keep wages down.
FACTS: The numbers he used were not close to the real figures. A White House document published on July 9 suggests there are between 36 and 60 million workers under noncompete clauses, based off figures from the Economic Policy Institute.
‘UP TO 20 REPUBLICANS’ SIGNING LETTER SUPPORTING INFRASTRUCTURE
BIDEN: ‘You had up to 20 Republicans sign a letter saying, “We think we need this deal. We think we need this deal”,’ Biden said when discussing the bipartisanship in the ongoing negotiations over his infrastructure bill.
FACTS: Republican Sen. Rob Portman said 11 Republican senators sent a letter to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer suggesting they would vote no in the procedural vote on Wednesday. All 50 Republicans ended up voting against advancing the bill. Schumer is now trying to push through negotiations to launch another vote on Monday.